AP NEWS

United for Puerto Rico Distributes Nearly $38 Million for Relief and Recovery Initiatives

September 19, 2018

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sep 19, 2018--United for Puerto Rico has awarded $37,980,545.76 in funds to 193 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support relief and recovery efforts for hurricanes Irma and María.

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Supply distribution activity in Utuado (Photo: United for Puerto Rico)

Funds granted as of August 31 st have been distributed to five areas: water and food $3,847,102.00 (10%); social wellbeing $7,531,286.57 (19.7%); health $8,328,323.24 (22%); economic development $7,689,265.70 (20%) and the reconstruction and construction of homes $10,584,568.25 (27%).

“There are three stages in disaster management, relief, recovery and reconstruction. The United for Puerto Rico model grants funds for the first two phases to five areas,” according to Aurelio Alemán, Chairperson for the board of United for Puerto Rico.

The priority for the relief phase is to distribute food, build community kitchens, provide community outreach health alternatives, distribute basic supplies, generators and provide social and psychological support for those dealing with post-traumatic stress. During the second phase, the strategic support shifts to repairing structures, homes, providing access to primary health care, and economic development initiatives to mitigate and respond to hurricanes and activate community efforts throughout Puerto Rico.

The funds have been distributed throughout all of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities and have primarily addressed the most vulnerable groups in the population: children, women who are heads of households, the disabled, the elderly, the homeless and small businesses.

“We channeled our aid funds through ONGs that are well aware of the needs of the populations they serve. Thus, we were able to rapidly channel aid where it was most needed,” said Mariely Rivera, Executive Director of United for Puerto Rico.

Lessons

Rivera added that there are numerous lessons learned a year after United for Puerto Rico came to be. United for Puerto Rico asked the ONGs that received grants to identify the main lessons and needs in disaster management and in supporting the recovery phase. They are as follows:

Provide for communication alternatives in the communities they serve, with government authorities and other ONGs in the region to leverage aid efforts. Provide specialized trainings in how to activate volunteers to work in disaster recovery efforts. Obtain strategic technical assistance in the design of competitive grant proposals and share best practices in managing aid efforts and programs. Establish emergency funds to support matching funds required for access to some disaster recovery programs. The need to strengthen alliances among ONGs to expand their reach in relief and recovery efforts is a recurrent theme among the organizations that have been active in disaster management and recovery efforts. A serious obstacle to recovery efforts is the lack of property titles and the denial of federal aid for this reason. It is an ongoing obstacle to recovery that has been addressed through awards for legal aid to those who lack property titles. Also, the need to facilitate a permit process that is agile to rebuild homes. Community health outreach initiatives are a pressing need, particularly for those sectors that were isolated by the hurricanes and remained with little or no access to basic services for months.

Communicating aid efforts

Rivera indicated that a parallel effort to the work of grant awards and monitoring has been the need to communicate these efforts to donors. More than 95% of the funds came from outside Puerto Rico, from foundations, individuals and companies.

“To be accountable in a cost-effective manner to our donors, we have recurred to a monthly news bulletin that is sent to registered donors. The information is also available at our website and in our Facebook page,” explained Rivera.

“A year after Hurricane María, we also considered it important that the people of Puerto Rico be informed of how donations were distributed. Several media outlets donated their space to include a public announcement on these efforts.” The ads should be published during the week of the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

As to one of the most important learnings from Hurricane María is that “we are all much more aware of the needs of our people. The United for Puerto Rico website has an interactive map of Puerto Rico where you can see which ONGs are in each municipality and what are the areas that they work with,” added Rivera. “We have supported nearly 200 ONGs and they have done an extraordinary job in responding to the disaster in very difficult conditions,” said Rivera.

About United for Puerto Rico

United for Puerto Rico is a private, nonprofit NGO certified as 501c3 entity by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. It was created after the Office of the First Lady of Puerto Rico called for members of the private sector to join in the relief effort after Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico on September 6. After the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Maria, on September 20, the organization saw the need to formalize and strengthen its structure as an entity separate from the government ruled by a board of eleven directors from the private sector. For more information, please visit .

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180919005876/en/

CONTACT: United for Puerto Rico

Lourdes Figaredo, R-6; APR, 787-366-0951

lourdesfigaredo@msn.com

or

Lisette Nuñez, R-449, 787-406-3606

lisette.nunez@gmail.com

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CARIBBEAN PUERTO RICO

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: PHILANTHROPY CONSUMER HISPANIC FUND RAISING

SOURCE: United for Puerto Rico

Copyright Business Wire 2018.

PUB: 09/19/2018 07:02 PM/DISC: 09/19/2018 07:02 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180919005876/en

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